U.S.-Cuba Trade: A Win-Win for Both Nations
Fostering open, competitive markets is an ALEC guiding principle and has long been a national ideal. Free trade — across state lines and with other nations — has allowed the U.S. economy to flourish. Cuba now has the potential to become a beneficial trading partner, a topic ALEC members explored during a July conference call with Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer, who introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to finally lift America’s longstanding trade embargo on the island-nation.
According to Congressman Emmer, agricultural trade in particular would offer benefits to both the U.S. and Cuba. The island-nation will need to significantly increase its food supply, in order to meet rising demand not only from its own citizens but from a surging number of tourists as well. Situated only ninety miles from the United States, Cuba is “a natural market for agricultural and trading purposes.” Recognizing this opportunity, the Cuban government sent Agricultural Minister Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero to the United States in June. This was the second visit by a Cuban minister this year; further evidence of the island-nation’s desire to bridge a divide that has lasted for more than a half-century.
During his U.S. visit, Rodriguez Rollero described Cuba’s farming sector, based on a cooperative model. While this has been Cuba’s system for many years, it is woefully ill-equipped to facilitate the nation’s future growth. Cuban farmers are still using tractors that are many decades old. Interestingly, Cuba’s now-antiquated machinery was American-made; U.S. firms again stand ready to help the sector modernize.
As Congressman Emmer noted, the Cuban embargo is a relic from the Cold War era, designed to contain communism in the Western Hemisphere by undermining the Castro regime. However, Fidel Castro remained in power until 2008, when he turned the government over to his brother Raul. The embargo, blamed for all of the island-nation’s problems, was in fact a propaganda gift to the regime. Normalized trade between the U.S. and Cuba would not only serve as a boon for U.S. exporters, but would likely enhance America’s image in the eyes of everyday Cubans, thus hastening the nation’s liberalization.